As Cyclone Fani weakens and drifts off from Indian soil, and onwards to Bangladesh, the efforts of authorities in Odisha to ensure minimum casualties and prevent loss of life due to the tropical storm, along with the accurate and timely inputs of the Indian Meteorological Department, are winning praise from United Nations and the international media.
Cyclone Fani, which made landfall in Puri on Friday with a wind speed of around 175kmph, wreaked havoc in Puri, parts of Khurda, and other districts. The cyclone tore apart critical infrastructure, especially power, telecom, and water supply. Lakhs of trees were uprooted blocking roads, breaking homes and damaging infrastructure, leaving at least 12 people killed and about 200 injured.
The fact that human casualties were limited to a very small number during one of the strongest storms to hit India in decades is in itself a massive feat. Naturally, the efforts have been noticed and have received praise from all quarters.
"India's zero casualty approach to managing extreme weather events is a major contribution to the implementation of the #SendaiFramework and the reduction of loss of life from such events," Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction, and head of the Geneva-based UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), said in a tweet, praising the approach of the authorities in dealing with the Cyclone.
India's zero casualty approach to managing extreme weather events is a major contribution to the implementation of the #SendaiFramework and the reduction of loss of life from such events. I look forward to hearing more about #CycloneFani at the #GP2019Geneva May 13-17. https://t.co/AqwCwNRjxE— Mami Mizutori (@HeadUNISDR) May 3, 2019
Denis McClean, a spokesperson for the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) praised the "pinpoint accuracy" of the Indian weatherman and said it helped to move millions to safe spaces.
"The almost pinpoint accuracy of the early warnings from the Indian Meteorological Department had enabled the authorities to conduct a well-targeted evacuation plan, which had involved moving more than one million people into storm shelters,” said McClean.
International media also wrote reports praising the Odisha government and its swift mobilisation of logistics in ensuring the safe and rapid evacuation of over one million people.
"Experts say this is a remarkable achievement, especially in a poor state in a developing country, the product of a meticulous evacuation plan in which the authorities, sobered by past tragedies, moved a million people to safety, really fast," says a report in The New York Times.
At the same time, people are also comparing the preparedness of Odisha in dealing with Cyclone Fani with Super Cyclonic Storm BOB06 that caused more than 10,000 fatalities in October 1999.
This is not the first time that Odisha has demonstrated the capability to handle a disaster situation with expertise and prevent colossal damage with administrative readiness and preparation.
In 2013 when the Cyclone Phailin hit Odisha, the death toll was less than 50. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was felicitated By United Nations for the handling of the disaster, calling Odisha a "global leader" in disaster management.